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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NY Lawyer Convicted in $300,000 Adoption Scam Theft

"Cruel" NY Lawyer Convicted of Stealing $300,000 From Would-Be Parents in Adoption Scam
The New York Law Journal by Andrew Keshner - November 2, 2010

A jury found a Long Island attorney guilty yesterday of stealing more than $300,000 from the families he promised to help adopt children who did not actually exist. The Nassau County Court jury deliberated for about a day before finding Kevin Cohen, 42, a Roslyn lawyer, guilty of 37 counts, including second-degree grand larceny, 11 counts of third-degree grand larceny and 10 counts of third-degree forgery. According to the Nassau County District Attorney's Office, Mr. Cohen now faces up to 92 years in prison. His sentencing has been scheduled for Dec. 7. His felony convictions also mandate his disbarment. Mr. Cohen, who represented himself during trial, had no reaction when the jury announced its verdict, according to several people inside the courtroom.

Adam Moser, the Rockville Centre attorney who was Mr. Cohen's court-appointed legal adviser, said Mr. Cohen planned to appeal. During opening statements, Mr. Cohen argued he could not be held criminally responsible for his actions, saying he was suffering from mental illnesses. The prosecution countered that Mr. Cohen, who is a graduate of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law admitted to the bar in 1996, knew exactly what he was doing and manipulated clients to take their money. County Court Judge John Kase ruled there was insufficient evidence to support Mr. Cohen's insanity defense and said the jury could not consider it. The jury heard testimony from 13 prospective parents during the three-week trial. Assistant District Attorneys Karen Bennett and Andrew Garbarino said that from October 2007 to the time of his arrest in September 2009, Mr. Cohen, who previously had headed a defunct agency called the Adoption Annex, held himself out as an adoption expert. Prosecutors said he obtained large sums of money from couples by fabricating birth mothers and forging records. Brigid Vogt, a 42-year-old Seaford homemaker who was one of Mr. Cohen's clients, testified against him and stayed to watch the verdict. "It felt good" to see the lawyer convicted on every count, she said. Mr. Cohen represented the birth mother in a planned 2006 adoption by the Vogts that fell through. Three years later, he approached them and told them that he wanted to make it up to them. "He used this against us, which was kind of cruel," Ms. Vogt said in interview. Just before Mr. Cohen's arrest, he showed Ms. Vogt fake sonograms and medical records to convince her and her husband that he had a child ready for adoption, but he said they needed to act fast. The couple came up with $22,500. "This is the cruelest crime I've ever dealt with," said Ms. Bennett, the assistant district attorney, in an interview. "There are no words to describe the pain and torment this defendant inflicted on kind and generous couples looking to provide a child with a loving home," said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement. "Now, with Kevin Cohen going to prison, he will never again have the chance to destroy another family's dream of adopting a child." The Lawyers Fund for Client Protection has reimbursed the Vogts and Mr. Cohen's other victims for their down-payments and fees. Ms. Bennett said prosecutors will press at the sentencing next month for restitution of other expenses, such as strollers, airplane tickets and the interest on loans—one with a 30 percent rate—that some families took out. Mr. Cohen failed to make $500,000 bail when he was arrested and he has been in jail since then. He also faces unrelated charges for allegedly assaulting a corrections officer in the Nassau County Correctional Facility. Andrew Keshner can be reached at akeshner@alm.com

2 comments:

Scared said...

Another thug who dressed up as an OFFICER OF THE COURT and forgot to take that Halloween Costume off.

This corruption is scary.

Is there no end? said...

Just when you think it can't get any worse, some bar con artist has to drop in just to prove you wrong..

How sad.. :(

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               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
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